Some thoughts about the future of Left Side of the Aisle
Finally for this week, I want to take a moment and be like Janus. Having taken a look to the past at the history of the New Year, I want to look to the future of this show.
I have had one hope, one intention, for this thing from the beginning: to be useful.
In fact, that has been my intent throughout my personal history of political activism: to be useful. I recall that in the late 1970s, I was pushing an idea about dealing with hunger. The details are unimportant now, what matters for our present tale is that a member of Congress from my state took the idea and presented it as his own. I was asked by various friends if I was upset by that and I always answered - truthfully - that I was a little upset, recognition is always nice, but not that much because what was important for me was not who got the credit but that it get done.
My goal is to be useful. Oh, entertaining, interesting, all that, too, but in service of being useful.
What I’m doing here, what this whole undertaking is about, is what’s known as advocacy journalism. We deal in facts - in sources, quotes, studies - and as I've said more than once, if you want to know my sources for what I say here, go to my website and find the post covering the topic I was talking about. The sources are there.
So we deal in facts. But what we seek to do here is to present those facts in a moral and ethical context.
Which means our target audience is indeed those who in at least a broad and general way agree with the point of view I'm expressing. I've had a couple of people tell me that while they don't agree with me politically, they watch the show because they think it's well done. I've had one or two others tell me they watch from time to time to "see what the liberals are saying." (I suppose I should tell them that "the liberals" are on the whole too conservative for me, but I never do.) I enjoy those people, I appreciate that they watch, I truly do.
But again, they are not our target audience. Our aim here is to rouse and inspire, to provide facts, background, and analysis that can put a context to ethical judgments and thereby spur action. My aim here is to use what skills I have, meager though they might be, to advance the causes that I believe in and the ethics that guide those beliefs. To, in a phrase, be useful.
Look, my ego is certainly big enough to enjoy recognition. I like some ego strokes as well as anyone else. When someone asked me "Are you the man on the television," I liked that. I enjoyed that. But that's not what this is about.
So here's what I'm going to ask of you, if you would do something for me. If you have found this show useful, if anything we have done or talked about or explained or whatever has prompted you to take any action, to make a phone call, to write a letter, to make a donation, to attend a rally, or just to talk about something with a friend, a colleague, a neighbor, a family member, if we have moved you, if we have been useful - let us know.
Drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oh, and by the way, for those of you who find my style overly blunt, as I know some do, I commend to you a Chinese proverb - an actual honest-to-gosh Chinese proverb - that says "the beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names."
Finally, this being the new year and so a time for resolutions, I have three for this show for this year:
One: to talk more about international events, which apart from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict I have largely neglected this past year.
Two: to sometimes, where it seems appropriate, to include something you can do on an issue.
Three: to carry on as best as I can.
I wish for you, for all of us, the most joyous and peaceful year possible.